Having survived the pandemic, you may find you are still experiencing some of the long-lasting side effects. These can include an acute lack of laughter due to the absence of slapstick and innuendo.
Well, Oooh-Er matron, you need to get yourself admitted to The Royal – and I don’t mean Liverpool’s new flagship hospital. I’m talking about the city’s Royal Court Theatre.
If laughter really is the best medicine, then this fabulous comedy, co-written by Lindzi Germain and Angela Simms, will get you right as ninepence in no time.
The play is set in old Liverpool Royal Hospital on the very day the demolition team are due to move in with their jackhammers and wrecking ball.
Linzi plays hospital tea-trolly dolly, Teresa McDonald. Then we have the two remaining medical practitioners, Nurse Florence, played by Angela, and the magnificently loud-mouthed and disorderly Ward Orderly, Mo McGuire, played to perfection by Lynn Francis.
Three talented ladies who have built on the foundations of the “Carry-on” comedies and taken the slapstick and innuendo to a whole new level of hilarity.
Everyone else has already moved to the brand-new hospital, and in the last ward to close before the demolition crew move in, they go about the business of saving lives whilst the crumbling old hospital building, quite literally, comes crashing down around their ears.
One of the lives they save is that of the grumpy nil-by-mouth-unless-it’s-alcohol patient Walter Bush, played by the inimitable Alan Stocks. With no doctor available, the task of performing an emergency appendectomy falls to rookie nurse Florence. But no need to worry, her intensive training involved watching every episode of ‘Casualty’ and we watch as she removes his appendix to the sound of the program’s theme tune.
Then, as the wrecking ball struck, a very convincing jaded hospital ward, became an equally convincing demolition site right before the audience’s eyes. There was no lights-out or behind-the-curtain scene shifting. It was engineered in a manner that should earn the set designers an Oscar (or whatever awards set designers get).
Amidst the mayhem, demolition man Paddy O’Shaughnessy, played by hunky actor Danny O’Brien, gallantly arrives on the scene, setting nurse Florence’s heart fluttering and ultimately becoming the hero of the hour.
Sadly, one patient didn’t make it. Poor Mrs Llewellyn died in her hospital bed just fifteen minutes into the play, despite nurse Florence’s shockingly bad best efforts with the defibrillator. Actor Joe Matthew-Morris might not have had a single line to learn but must surely get the Golden Bedpan award for “Best Corpse”. He was on stage for the entire play, remaining straight-faced and ashen throughout, whilst enduring a string of hilarious indignities.
The prospect of ‘corpsing’ on stage is every actor’s nightmare. And many will tell you that it is most likely to happen while you are playing dead!
The Royal is a delightful fast-moving comedy jam-packed with wonderful one-liners, plenty of toilet humour and possibly the best bit of set building (and demolishing) you are ever likely to see. This play sets the bar for comedy theatre.
All six actors did this clever script proud and were a credit to director Cal McCrystal.
The first week saw the theatre running out of seats faster than the NHS is running out of beds. So, if you want an injection of fabulous fun, get yourself on the waiting list now before it’s run at The Royal Court ends on 16th April.